French President Emmanuel Macron said today, after a European summit in Brussels, that the European sanctions policy against Russia “has reached its limits.” He believes that the European Union should “rethink its relationship with Moscow.”
According to Macron, a “reactive” European policy is no longer sufficient, and a “short, medium and long-term strategy” has become necessary with regard to Russia. The French head of state concludes that accumulating sanctions over “frozen positions” “is no longer an effective policy.”
Macron was questioned about the impact of sanctions on Belarus after a passenger flight was diverted to Minsk to arrest an opponent. The effectiveness of sanctions against Russia, which has not yet resulted in the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has been questioned. Macron replied: “What you are saying is very correct, but what is the procedure that you will consider?” “It is not easy to say what to do. In those cases, will we unleash an armed conflict?”
The European Commission and the High Representative for European Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, should present a range of policy options to Macron and other leaders in the lead up to the June 24-25 EU summit to deal with Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
It is, of course, better for us to express our European concerns in a conversation with the Russian president than if the American president did.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already called for diplomatic channels to be kept open with Moscow. “People can have different opinions and still talk to each other,” the chancellor said.
Merkel said that Putin is ready to meet with US President Joe Biden. “But of course it is better to advance our European interests in a conversation with the Russian president than for the American president to do so.”
Merkel also wants to provoke a Belarusian distraction from the plane when she speaks with Putin again. She indicated, however, that the European Union “has no final results” about possible Russian involvement in the incident.
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